The Suitcase Lady


June 11, 2013, 10:55 pm

I live surrounded by mermaids. These lovely ladies have not flapped upstairs from the beach that is our front yard. They are, rather, a part of  a lifetime accumulation of art that I have acquired at folk art markets, thrift stores, art fairs and galleries.

I never set out to collect mermaids. I’m just drawn to them which is, after all, their fictitious purpose. My fascination with these ladies started at an early age when my mother read me the original Hans Christian Andersen story of “The Little Mermaid”. I simultaneously cried and fell in love with the story. Ariel, from the Disney version, will never be a stand in for the first Little Mermaid in my heart.

Many of my mermaids are from Mexico, where Sirenas are beloved subject matter for storytellers and artists.

IMG_0814Sirenas and their siren songs are inseparable.

IMG_0820This buxom Sirena and her skinny friend are both coconut shell folk art.

IMG_0815Not all mermaids have fish tails.

IMG_0825Curious and curiouser

IMG_0829A hysterical skeleton mermaid greets me as I walk in my downstairs door …it is hard not to smile.

IMG_0834 IMG_0833Nicario Jimenez is a third generation retablo maker from Peru. Retablos, small wooden boxes filled with tiny figures, were originally used by Spanish priests to teach stories about the saints. The figures are made from boiled potato and gypsum powder clay. Nicario has won numerous awards for his intricate and imaginative scenes.


IMG_0836This mermaid spends all her hours staring out at Lake Michigan.

IMG_0823 IMG_0821Marvin Hill was a gentle, immensely talented and witty Wisconsin printmaker whose life was ended by cancer. He was irreplaceable. His mermaids are my favorites.

Note that the last mermaid is holding a shell to her ear. The title of this print is “Hear the Forest?”

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